Letter: An alliance barring the way to peace

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Sir: Dick Spring (26 March) claims the poor showing of Sinn Fein in the Irish elections means that the IRA has no mandate for its struggle. However, if any other country censored an opposition party the way the Irish government censors Sinn Fein, then its elections would not be accepted as free and fair.

When Milan Panic was defeated in the Serbian elections, Douglas Hurd said that bias in the government-controlled media threw grave doubt on the validity of the result, and in a letter to the Independent (1 March) Tom Gallagher accused Milosevic of 'manufacturing an electoral majority through control of . . . most of the media'.

Yet Panic was able to say a few sound-bites on radio and television, while Sinn Fein is permanently banned from the media which people overwhelmingly rely on for news and analysis. Indeed, as the Serbian results rolled in, the Irish Supreme Court ruled that Sinn Fein members should continue to be banned from the airwaves, even when they are acting as spokespersons for non-political organisations.

The Irish electorate did not reject the actual policy aims of Sinn Fein: a united Ireland free from sectarian divisions and discrimination, revival of the Irish language, an end to poverty and forced emigration. It recoiled in horror from the media's false caricatures of the IRA as either drug-dealing gangsters or a bunch of hate-filled sectarian murderers.

Yours faithfully,




26 March